WASHINGTON D.C. -- Citing its long-standing partnership with the Philippines, World Bank chief executive officer Kristalina Georgieva confirmed the institution’s commitment to work with the Philippine government in helping conflict-torn Marawi City rise from devastation, along with scaling up support for peace-building efforts in Mindanao.

In a meeting here with Philippine officials led by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Georgieva said the World Bank, with its capability and expertise in rebuilding conflict-hit areas, can provide technical aid and other forms of assistance to the Philippines to help rebuild Marawi City.

Georgieva also welcomed Dominguez’s plan to tap domestic resources to raise funds for Marawi’s reconstruction, which she said, was “the right thing to do” and underscored the importance of “inclusive development” as a key aspect of the rehabilitation strategy for the city.

“We can only express all of our sympathy for what has been going on in Marawi,” said Georgieva during the meeting held at the World Bank Office here. “As an institution that has committed to peaceful development and dealing with conflict situations, we would be honored in helping in terms of [re]building and engaging in any possible way what we can do in this situation.”

Apart from Dominguez, also at the meeting were Secretaries Alan Peter Cayetano of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Ernesto Pernia of the National Economic and Development Authority.

Mara Warwick, World Bank country director for Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand, was also at the meeting.

On behalf of the Philippines, Dominguez thanked the World Bank “for its generous assistance to the Philippines through the years” and welcomed its offer of aid for Marawi City.

Dominguez emphasized the need for World Bank’s technical advice and expertise in reconstructing the entire city of Marawi as the Philippines has very limited experience in handling a rehabilitation program of this magnitude.

“(The rehabilitation of Marawi) is a complicated situation,” said Dominguez, noting as an example the issue involving land titling for its returning residents, many of whom are informal settlers living in multi-storey structures.

“The World Bank has the experience in reconstruction. We want to rebuild the entire city and keep a part of it as a memorial,” Dominguez said.

Dominguez informed Georgieva that with the approval of President Duterte, the government has opted to raise funds “domestically” for Marawi’s recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction program by, among others, issuing bonds.

“I would like to introduce the concept that the rest of the country is involved in Marawi, that we have to contribute ourselves to the reconstruction and we are going with the bond issue,” Dominguez said.

Georgieva said the Philippine government and the World Bank “need to work together” even as she cited the strength and resilience of Filipinos in dealing with conflict and tragedies.

In a statement issued last August 31, the World Bank said it will “scale up support for peace-building and development in Mindanao as part of the midterm adjustment of its country partnership strategy.”

“This scaled-up program for the entire Mindanao will focus on supporting the government’s program to raise agricultural productivity and improve connectivity from farm to market; boost education, skills, and employability of the youth; and help build resilient communities,” its statement said.

In the meeting, Dominguez and Pernia also provided Georgieva an update on the status of the ongoing infrastructure projects in the Philippines that are being implemented with the assistance of the World Bank, such as the Metro Manila Flood Management Project, which is being co-funded with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), and the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit System.

Cayetano mentioned that several countries have already provided assistance and committed to help Marawi, but a clear direction and detailed rehabilitation plan is needed to organize such efforts. (PR)